The state government of Kerala is gearing up to bring more areas under organic farming. This time, it has decided to expand organic farming to 2,000 hectares in three districts.
As per the Kerala State Organic farming policy, the government, under the aegis of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM), plans to popularize organic farming in the entire state in a phased manner.
The State Horticulture Mission (SHM) has invited expression of interest from various organizations in the organic farming sector to carry out cultivation on 2,000 hectares in Wayanad, Idukki and Kasaragod districts for the financial year 2014-15. Currently, organic farming is done across 2,600 hectares in these three districts.
R Ajay Chandra, project officer of Organic farming at SHM said: “We have roped in organic farming clusters under the initiative. The government-certified agency will give organic certification to the clusters after soil sample testing and leaf analysis for three years. We make the soil chemical-free by giving biofertilizer and cow dung to each cluster.” Banana, pineapple, mango, guava, litchi, pear, strawberry, passion fruit, cut flowers, loose flowers, pepper, cinnamon, clove, ginger, turmeric, cocoa, cashew, aromatic and medicinal plantsa are some of the NHM-mandated crops for organic farming.
He said the farmer will get 30% of the vegetable’s cost if he obtains organic certification. “The government has planned the initiative following reports that at least 10,000 new cancer patients from the state register at the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram every year.
Manoj Kumar Menon, CEO of International Competent Centre for Organic Agriculture, an agribusiness organization, said: “Nearly 10,400 hectares in the state have received organic certification from various certified agencies. The state government exports organic products worth at least Rs 80-100 crore every year.
Kerala lacks a strategic vision in promoting organic farming. Further, the state does not contribute to the sector. It’s activities are solely under the Central government’s initiative. It is difficult to believe that the state government’s initiative will be fruitful”.